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London (UPI) Mar 7, 2013
An exceptionally well-preserved woolly rhinoceros fossil from 42,000 years ago has revealed Britain was "severely cold" then compared to today, researchers say.
The rhino skull was discovered in 2002 alongside preserved insects including beetles and midges.
Studies of the skull and insects allowed scientists to calculate that summer temperatures in Britain would have averaged just 50 degrees Fahrenheit and would have dropped to minus 7 degrees F in winter, the BBC reported Thursday.
The fossil analysis was "strongly indicative of severely cold and continental climates akin to Asia today," the researchers said.
Britain 42,000 years ago would have looked more like an Arctic tundra landscape, they said.
Many of the fossilized insects no longer exist in Britain, they added, with some now found only northern Siberia or the high plateau of central Asia.
In addition to the woolly rhinoceros skeleton, paleontologists said they uncovered remains of other cold-weather mammals, including mammoths and reindeer, as well as the well-preserved insects.
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